I was a public high school teacher for over a decade, and loved my job. So when the opportunity opened for me to go to seminary, I thought for sure God was allowing me to further my education so I could teach at the collegiate level. However, as I took classes, which included times of silence and stillness with God, I began to sense he was leading me elsewhere: ordained ministry. Me, a pastor?! I had been married to a pastor for 15 years and, believe me, I did not want to give even more of my life to the church. I was quite content teaching high school English and trying to influence students, co-workers and parents with the love of Christ. After all, that’s where the “real” ministry happened! Although I loved our church, I resisted the notion of becoming a pastor for a variety of reasons: it didn’t fit my personality (I’m too much of a goofball!), it sounded simultaneously boring and too involved in people’s lives (I liked that a bell whisked people in and out of my school day in a very orderly, structured fashion), and don’t even get me started about the difference in pay (I was in the highest paying district in my area). However, I gradually came to accept God’s leading in that direction; it took me about six months just to say I’m studying to be a pastor without laughing out loud. That’s how ludicrous the idea seemed to me. However, in his faithfulness, God eased me into ministry situations I had never encountered before, such as hospital visits, memorial services, preaching and counseling. During those times, as well as times of silence, stillness and prayer, God allowed me to see myself through his eyes, as someone who is called and capable, not because of anything I had accomplished, but because he makes me so. Before long, I was able to see myself in formal ministry without that self-deprecating laughter. Of course I still struggle with aspects of ministry, I always will, but God is graciously and patiently teaching me that he is with me, he is for me, and with him, the best is yet to come!
One verse that has been a source of great encouragement for me is 2 Corinthians 3:4-6a:
Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant…..
You do not have to live up to the call of formal ministry. God bows low to meet us where we are and makes us competent for all that lies before us. God bless you as we co-labor for his Kingdom!